Help Me Stay Motivated: Waiting for 'Right' House.

jonw9April 21, 2013

I usually don't come to vent or complain, but I kind of need some 'keep the faith' talk and some advice. This may get long, but I will try to keep it short.

Last summer I took a new job. We sold our home of 10 years rather easily. The down side was that we essentially broke even, receiving $300 at closing.

We tried to buy 3 houses last year.
First house didn't appraise. Sellers wouldn't move and wanted us to make up the difference with cash. We couldn't (see above) and walked. Lost ~$1,000. The house sold 2 months later for the lower price they wouldn't come down 2.

Second house we offered full asking, no contingencies (closing costs, etc.). We lost, and 5 months later it closed for $1,900 more than we offered. I kind of fear our Realtor let us down on this one. It is still the house I compare all other houses we look at.

Third house, we were under contract. Seller mis-represented the roof,wouldn't repair. We realized we were just settling to not move into an apartment, and walked. Again out ~$1,000.

So now we have been in an apartment since October, and I have been searching every day. In that time, it seems it has gone from a buyers to a sellers market. Lucky us. Buy high, sell low I guess....

We switched realtors, but it still feels like I am doing the work. i don't know at this point if we should keep looking for what we want (see house 2) or look into settling because the 'dream house' doesn't actually exist.

Spring/April is supposed to be a high spot in listings, So far there have barely been a handful of new listings, but nothing worth even looking at. Some of the older listings are actually increasing the sales price.

Things will get better right? The right house 'should' be out there. Or at least that is what I keep hoping for. Thanks for allowing me to vent.

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I have been in your shoes before. I invest in properties now, but have had several "dream homes" slip through my fingers over the years. A few were such disappointments that my wife sobbed over losing them.

Of the three you listed, only number 2 sounds like a real "loss" although I recognize you've lost money in all three. Lack of appraisal value is a bigger deal with bank financing these days, and you do NOT want roof problems on a new house purchase.

Just keep at it. I always live my life by the motto that there are no mistakes, just lessons learned. For every door that you feel has closed, a new one opens.

Inventory is at record lows in much of the nation right now, but spring brings more homes onto the market. You sound like you have your financing lined up, you know your price range and you know how to make offers.

You can also encourage your buyers agent to target specific neighborhoods and surface homes that aren't on the MLS just yet (seller prepping home, staging, waiting for school yer to end, whatever) and with a good agent buy a home before a bidding war starts. Sometimes before the sellers do a bunch of "upgrades" that a) you don't want/need and b) that will result in an inflated listing price. This may help you keep the price range where you need it. Kitchen may look dated, but it keeps$10k off the price and you can address it later.

Also, check tax law. You may be able to deduct some of your appraisal/inspection fees.

Keep your chin up and get aggressively creative in your search. Don't wait for your house to be listed....make a seller move for you!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 11:02AM
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Yes, our financing is in place, credit is excellent.

The first house there were tears shed, but my wife was battle hardened after that.

The second house was tough, we were the first offer in, the agent sat on it for 5 days waiting for more offers to arrive (saying the seller was too busy to look at offers), then to lose by less than $2k with no counter was crushing. That is the shady side of real estate I can't stand.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 11:50AM
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Next time you write an offer, make it good for only 24 hrs. That forces the seller to reply.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 2:56PM
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Hi Jonw9,
We are in the exact same situation, sold our house in early January rather quickly and had a long (3 + months) until closing. We though that gave us a quite a bit of time to find something. We are now in a short term rental with nothing on the horizon. We too are in a sellers market with limited inventory. Homes priced well are moving very quickly with multiple offers and on the opposite side of the coin, the sellers of overpriced homes that have been on the market for several months are not in the least bit willing to negotiate, perhaps waiting for the market to catch up with their price. We are not looking for a move in ready home but having a tough time finding one to fix up that's priced accordingly. I am acting the cheerleader to my husband assuring him that something will come up but sometimes I too have my doubts. Maybe well just stay in the rental as sometimes its nice not to have multiple projects going every weekend!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 3:44PM
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When people interview selling/listing agents, they ask about selling strategy. Same should apply to buyer's agents. After all, selling and buying agents share commission from one transaction.

Assume you have a buyer's agent, or you are about to sign up a buyer's agent. What are your expectations of your buyer's agent? what is the strategy the agent would help you to find a house? What is your specific needs and wants? What communication styles, channels you are comfortable with? You need to hire an agent you can work with, who is competent, diligent, aggressive and well connected.

All these years we only encountered one pair of outstanding buyer's agents who worked together as a team. They were communicative, agreesive, efficient and smart. They showed us houses before they were getting on the market. It seems they were very likeable since other agents would share their pocket listings with them. They would knock the doors to find potential listings. They were just amazing.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 3:53PM
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Why are you losing money? You need a better agent writing those contracts, because the only time a buyer should lose a deposit is if they balk and the seller is willing.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 9:01PM
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The contract for the second house was 24 hours, but if they don't respond, what can we do but wait longer? We could walk, but we wanted the house.

The money lost on the houses is the loan application/appraisal fee and the inspection. We received our good faith back, but that in another story involving lawyers and sellers dragging their feet.

I am hoping my new agent is scouring for unlisted properties. She tells me she is calling other agents/agencies looking for these properties.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:03PM
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Contractual time limits in a sellers market are not taken seriously, as was seen by the reaction of this seller.
Inventory may rise with the spring season, but maybe not as much as in the past... I think a lot od potential sellers are still too close to being upside down, and therefore are staying on the sidelines. I run into them all the time. These potential sellers would normally be coming into the market, but now, not until they gain enough equity to walk away whole.
Best thing to do in your situation is to wait for the next property, and make a really good offer on it right a way.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 7:03AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

I hope my story can inspire you.

We had a lousy buyer's agent, and lost 3 full price cash offers on really great properties to investors, as we watched the market turn from buyers market to sellers. We ended our relationship with her, went only with listing agents who would profit both from the sale and the listing commissions, and finally won!

Our listing agent showed us many houses before we jumped on one short sale. It is a home we never dreamed we would own. High in the hills with beautiful views, decks, pool, and on a private road. We have hired people to do work there, and they all ask "How did you find this place?"

When you go on a mission and proactively contact listing agents only, you will find that they sometimes know of houses that are going to be listed, and will show them to you before they show anyone else. The LISTING agent explained to us some of the games that investors play. They usually have contacts or are contractors, so they are able to make a lower offer with no inspection and can close in two weeks. Stuff like that......

When you are just a regular buyer, you need to have that inspection, and it's good to get a relationship with one in your area so you can get the inspection done quickly.

Even if you say you can close within 2 weeks, many escrows take much longer, but you might get your offer accepted because of your willingness to close.

Something that our listing agent had us do when making our offer on our recent home was a personal letter included with the offer that stated how much we loved certain features of the home, that we were going to live there for a long time, and what it would mean to us and our family. We did state we would close by the end of January, and on the last day of January, we got the keys.

We knew we were in for a big remodel, and that is in process now.

Good luck to you!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 10:22AM
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desertdance, you keep referring to the agent you used as the listing agent. Does that mean that he/she only showed you homes that were listed with them? If not, they were just asking as a buyer's agent for you.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 12:03PM
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nickel0815 has a great option called "make me move". You should check that out (if you haven't already). A lot of people will post their house on there in hopes to get an offer without having to actually list their house. Good luck! I know the frustration all too well!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 12:24PM
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I have looked at the "make me move" but they all seem to want to be paid an extra $50,000 to be "made" to move.

I am wondering if I am making a mistake looking for another place like #2. I don't want to live in an apartment forever waiting for the 'perfect' place to show up, but I don't want to settle and regret it for the next decade or more.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 8:43PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

To answer Terril's question. We learned never to sign a contract with a buyer's agent. They don't want to waste their time with a lookie loo, but we didn't want the agent to neglect to show us houses we never got a chance to look at because of her neglect or lack of knowledge of what was actually on the market.

We only talked to LISTING agents, and had many opportunities to see homes prior to going on the MLS because we had priority with the LISTING agent who would also get the selling commission.

It's a game, and playing it that way worked for us. After losing with buyer's agents, the LISTING agents got us into their pre-listings with priority, and in a seller's market, that gave us a really good advantage.

Just a tip for the OP.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 11:08PM
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Took us a year to find a house. After selling our home of 40 years in NY, we retired to Florida. We were lucky we had family with vacation condos where we could stay during that time. We must have seen hundreds of houses and worked with 5 different agents....don't ask!

It was a nightmare and we wound up buying a house we had seen at the very beginning of our search. We liked it initially, but it lacked certain things we thought we couldn't live without. It also was out of the area we wanted to live in.

Over the year, the market (Florida) began to change from buyers to sellers market. Investors were snatching up properties quickly. But, we also saw many short sales which were tempting. We had put offers on a few but the banks never moved.

It became depressing. We had all our belongings, furniture, clothes, etc. in storage which was expensive. We felt so displaced and unhinged.

We had accepted offers on quite a few houses during the year but they all fell through. Most failed inspections and the buyers wouldn't allow for major repairs (roof, plumbing, mold). Others had permit issues where the work they did was not legal. Their only option was to try to get permits but they all choose not to do so.

So we wound up with one of the first houses we saw. By that point the seller dropped her price and we raised ours. She was underwater with the bank and would only accept her price to cover her mortgage. We gave in and covered her.

Are we happy here? Still not sure, bit we are finally settled. After 7 months I still don't feel this house is home. It took me almost 6 months before I could call it 'home.' I still have issues with that word. But, we spent a year living in limbo, working with agents who didn't fit. When we finally found the right Realtor we knew we'd find our house.

I don't know if you'll ever find the right house. I do know the longer it takes the harder it becomes. You begin to settle, you get tired of looking and you just accept. I still feel we should have kept looking.

We call this place home now. We are slowly putting ourselves in the house making it feel like home. Not there yet, but at least we aren't living our lives looking for the 'right' home anymore.

Good luck,

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 1:25AM
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Contact any "make me moves" that you may be interested in and ask if they are willing to negotiate on their listed price. Some of them may be planning on listing soon, and are just testing the waters to see if they can get more $ then the comps are showing. They may be getting ready to lower their price and it can't hurt to ask. If they can sell without hiring a Realtor you can save them some $. Ask for additional photos, so they know you are serious.

Maybe put a home wanted ad on craigslist with what you are looking for.

Some posters on here have found their new home by knocking on a door to see if the owner was interested in selling. I'd love it right now if someone would do that to us.

Have you posted on facebook and told everyone to let you know if there is anyone they know who is thinking of selling soon? Where are you looking to buy? Maybe someone on this board will be selling soon in your area or knows someone who is.

Just throwing out some ideas off the top of my head. It's too bad that there's not some website where people could post that they would be selling soon. I think there are people out there who would love to sell their home, but believe that the market is too slow and don't want to list it, just to have it accumulate days on mls and become an old listing, so they are putting their plans on hold. That's been our situation for a few years, but if we knew someone wanted to buy our home we would have jumped on it.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 1:26AM
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desertdance got the right idea and it works.

All the approaches a buyer's agent would get a new "for sale house" for you are the same approaches LISTING agents use to get their listings. They must be good at that, otherwise, they would not be LISTING agents.

In addtion, talking to LISTING agents directly would give them the motivation of making both sides of commission, so they would work harder for you.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 5:28AM
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We are in this same position now...sold our home in NY at the end of August and have been living in a one bedroom condo since then, all of our belongings in storage...we were certain we would be moved in to a new home by Christmas but have seen three offers fall through and it's frustrating (one of which brought me to tears as well).

Inventory is low and things that were sitting for months (and years) finally started to sell over the last couple of months. There have been days when I'm beyond frustrated and miserable, but I try to put things in perspective - we have a roof over our heads and we are healthy, and anything else is icing on the cake. I definitely have fallen into desperate moments when I am willing to settle, but we are looking for a home to be in for the duration, and I try to keep that in mind.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 11:26AM
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Hmm. I work in RE, and I don't personally know any agents who are only listing agents or buyer's agents. I know that some agents say that they specialize in one or the other, but I don't know any agent who will say no to a listing or working with a qualified buyer.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 11:56AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b


You could be right, but a walk through will designate listing and buyers agents. The listing agent is usually the broker who doesn't deal with buyers. He hires newer agents to do that job, and his name is on the listing. He is privy to any pending listings in his office, and if he knows you are a serious buyer, you WILL get priority.

I suggest you never commit to working with any agent at all. If they want you to sign a contract with them, do not do it. YOU do the work! Drive around neighborhoods, get names of listing agents, give them all a call and only speak to them. Express that you are interested in their listings, and would like to know new listings that are pending. They will give you first dibs, which is important in a fast moving market.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 12:32PM
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Thanks for the insight. We did 'sign' with the listing agent, but we can cancel at any point. I will give her a bit to see what happens. She already seems to be working harder than the last one.

Thanks Jane_ny (Jane_fl?) for your opinion. I am at the point now where homes i didn't like are starting to look good. Plus all I read is how housing prices are going up 20% each month.

I definitely feel like I am on the "Buy high, sell low" investment plan.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 8:51PM
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